Archive for February, 2010

Give it up for Trouser Mischief everyone!

In support of their new album “Part of Being a Master” the band is on tour world wide, and today find themselves in … um… I have no idea where, and I don’t really care!

This is the start of the Golden Gods of Rock fiasco, with our players, Rick the drug dealer, Nona the lead signer, and Sophie, the weird tech drug addict and sometimes lover of Nona.



So I had to try out a Fiasco.  And the playset they released for January really caught my imagination: In a touring rock band.  Sex, drugs and rock and roll, what’s not to love?

We’ll start with “the setup”.

First off it’s a three person game.  I suspect that it’d be better as a four or even five person game.  That’d really give you the opportunity to develop and screw over the characters.  Because, really, that’s the beauty of the game, everyone’s supposed to get hosed.  Royally.  It’s what you want to happen.  And it’s a lot of fun doing it.



Posted: February 18, 2010 in RPG
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I just bought a new set of rules for a game called Fiasco, from Bully Pulpit Games.  I love the concept of these rules!

The idea behind the game is that it’s one of those crime-gone-wrong stories, you know the ones where everyone ends up killing each other in the end over a suitcase that’s supposed to be filled with cocaine but instead has two pair of pleather pants and a gold sequined bra.

Honestly, you’ve got me hooked right there.


The Office Magic User

Posted: February 16, 2010 in Uncategorized
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I was talking with E today about the “competency levels” she has to deal with at work.  These are odd creatures like “Level two in developing others” and “level four in status reports” and other good things like that.  I said how I figured that if she were to do two more levels in the dungeon crawl she’d probably have enough XP to level up.  And as a bonus, I said, she could get another spell too!  That, of course, lead us off on a discussion of what sorts of spells that could be.  She said that it’d make an awesome blog post and so I felt utterly compelled to write it up!

So now, without further ado, is the grimoire of office spells:

Magic User
Detect Management – Actually it’s pretty easy to find, I think.  It’s leadership that’s rather difficult to come across.

Distract Management – much as we’d like to dispell them, I don’t think that’s possible.  The best we can hope is to distract them and let us get on with our jobs.  The somatic component of this spell is wild hand waving and pointing at a non-existant or irrelevent problem elsewhere.

Silence Blowhard (reversable) – reverse version is Belabour the obvious, verbal and somatic components are a loud librarian shush with finger to the lips, or a bitch slap, caster’s choice (I know what I’d pick)

Leomund’s Tiny Meeting room – If your place is anything like mine or E’s, you can never find a meeting room when you need one.  Either they’re booked solid with recurring meetings originally set up during Laurier’s first term in office, or else they’re unbooked but the door’s closed and someone’s having a tryst inside.  Either way, no work’s getting done.  This spell creates a door in a blank wall that leads to a meeting room for the exact number of people you have attending, includes comfy chairs, a whiteboard (with markers!) and a networked PC that really works.  After seventh level, the meeting room also includes a coffee service.  There are danishes too if cast before noon.

Leomund’s Tiny Business Centre – just like the Tiny Meeting Room, but includes a working photocopier stocked with paper and toner, that never jams, and similarly equipped color and black and white printers.  Any office supplies needed are automatically available in the unlockable steel cabinet against the wall.

Cleric Spells
Create Deck – if it was a wood deck it’d be a druid spell, but no, this is a Powerpoint Deck; 35 full color slides on any topic the caster chooses, and it makes sense too!

Create Clue – for those in the office who don’t have one but could sure use one

Protection from Bureaucracy – gives a sphere of protection from stupid, bureaucratic rules in a 10′ radius around the caster.  No bureaucracy is allowed within the sphere for the (all too short) duration of the spell.

Retire – everyone’s goal!  The material component of this spell is a *large* bank balance.

Druid Spells
Trim deadwood – this produces a large cudgle magically welded to the caster’s hand.  The caster then walks around the office “tapping” the deadwood and magically they all go away!

Save a tree – removes all trace of toner from paper to allow reuse of the 600 page document that someone printed (twice!) and then left sitting on the printer in the business centre for two weeks

Illusionist Spells
Illusion of competence – Lulls viewers into the sense that whatever staff it’s been cast upon actually know their jobs and have a clue as to what they’re doing and how to do it.  The illusion is shattered by actually looking at what they’re doing (playing minesweeper) or asking them a question.

Let me know what I’ve missed!

There’s been a bunch of discussion lately on the Mythic forum, that started with All Flesh Must Be Eaten by Eden Studios, and expanded onto the Unisystem system.  This made me realize that I’d gotten a PDF a while back from Eden studios.  It’s CJ Carrella’s Witchcraft.  It’s a neat game!  Characters play modern day “gifted” or their associates, who hunt supernatural evil and look to prevent a coming supernatural apocalypse.

Of course this got me thinking…I’d written a short story a while back about a CSI type setup, but one that uses occult or supernatural means to do their “detecting”.  I started there and expanded on the concept, so that the team is more than just a detection lab, but rather a response team to take care of problems that are beyond the scope of the legal system.  Kind of a supernatural NCIS.


The Walker Program

Posted: February 6, 2010 in RPG
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Gordon, Mark III (by Kevin) - click for full view

Initiated by the Germans under the cover of an industrial construction machinery project, the first operational walker was actually tested by the British, on the northern Scottish moors late in 1940.  That walker was actually the first generation of the “Gordon”, powered by a pair of aircraft engines and with locomotion by way of outboard tracks taken from a Matilda tank.  The original Gordon Mark I was armed very lightly, bosting a single Vickers .50 mounted coaxially on the lower hull.  Crew consisted of two, a driver and a gunner.  The Mark I was quickly upgraded to a Mark II and III version, with the Mark III sporting a Boys Anti-Tank rifle in addition to the single Vickers.  There only being one gunner with two weapons, however, was soon seen as a detriment, especially when the Mark III’s began seeing service in Africa.


Top Secret, review

Posted: February 4, 2010 in Uncategorized
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Just some wrapup notes for the top Secret mission…

The game still works.  It was still a lot of fun despite it’s Cold War roots being in long out of date.  I have yet to revisit the original mission that came with the boxed set, which was extremely Cold War in it’s setting, but it could always be run as a retro piece.

The biggest thing I find the system is missing is a trait or ability for spotting hidden things.  There’s no “make a perception roll”, because there is no perception trait.  That was a big failing for it even in 1980 because half of the spy game is seeing things others miss.  I guess it’s intended more as a player perception rather than character perception, up to the player to ask “is he sweating unduely?” rather than does the character spot it.

Top Secret has a strange history of intersecting with the reality of espionage and terrorism.  When the original game was being playtested, notes on TSR letterhead were found about a kidnap plot, and the FBI was alerted.  They visited the company’s offices to investigate!  The module I played, TS-003, had the cruise ship MS Corona highjacked by terrorists in 1982.  The deck plans for the ship in the game are based on the MS Achille Lauro, a ship that really was highjacked by terrorists in 1985!

As for the scenario in the module, I think it still works well.  It’s a tense and challenging game, and I’d love to run it with players sometime, especially in the “tournament” fashion for which it was designed.  For the modern day, however, I think I’d move it to the Carribbean and have the target city as Miami.  And to add tension, I’d have a limit that once the ship crosses the 50 mile limit, the US Navy will sink her with torpedos unless agents have sent the all clear.  Just a little something to up the tesnion for them.  And as for the doctor with his Aqua Staph jars, I’d say he boarded in Miami and was intending to jump ship once they reached made a port call at the right banana republic.

I’ll happily pull this game out again in the future.  I’d forgotten how much fun it can be.  There’s a small community of fans out there still playing and still enjoying this long out of print game.  The one thing to remember though, is that this isn’t (despite all the packaging) a James Bond type game.  It’s far to “gritty” or “realistic” for that.  It’s very straightforward in it’s presentation, not cinematic at all.

But like I said…fun and I’ll definately play it again.